Sutton United boss Paul Doswell insists his non-league side have nothing to fear ahead of their Emirates FA Cup third round tie against League One side AFC Wimbledon.
Sutton clinched a dramatic win over Cheltenham Town of League Two at Gander Green Lane in the second round, when Roarie Deacon fired home an angled drive in the 96th minute.
AFC Wimbledon survived a massive scare at the same stage, scoring four times in the last 10 minutes as they secured a sensational 4-3 comeback against Curzon Ashton.
Sutton United v AFC Wimbledon
- The Emirates FA Cup Third Round
- 3pm, Saturday 5 January 2017
- Gander Green Lane, Sutton
- By Jimmy Booker
And Doswell is determined to let his players know that the pressure is all on the League One side, and they have nothing to fear on Saturday.
“We’re really looking forward to it, it’s a win-win for us really,” he said. “If we get through, brilliant, if we don’t we’ve had a great run.
“The message I’m going to get across is for the players not to fear the game, to enjoy it and embrace it. There’s no reason that on any given day why we can’t.”
The game is something of a local derby, although Doswell says he does not expect anything other than friendly rivalry on the day.
“What AFC Wimbledon have done as a fans-owned club is bordering on miraculous. I actually do hold them in the highest esteem,” Doswell added.
“Their budget is not a League One budget, and Neal Ardley has performed minor miracles to get them up into that division.
“But on the day we want to beat them.”
The Sutton boss, who took charge of his 500th game as manager in a 4-1 win against Woking in October, is confident that his team can cause an upset.
“You’re in football for these types of days,” he said. “It’s great for our football club, it’s not something you achieve very often at the level we play at.
“When I was younger, it was always the main thing, looking forward to the third round draw of the FA Cup.
“That feeling has never left me. It’s a magical competition and still one of the best in the world.”
FA Cup history
Sutton United recorded one of the most famous giant-killings in the competition’s history in 1989, when they knocked out First Division Coventry City. Goals from Tony Rains and Matthew Hanlan secured a famous 2-1 win and took Sutton through to the fourth round, the furthest they have been in the competition.
Since their inception in 2002, AFC Wimbledon’s best run came in 2015, losing to Liverpool 2-1 at Kingsmeadow in the third round.
Did you know?
Sutton United fans have released a single in celebration of their FA Cup exploits. The song, Back on the Shoebox Terrace Again, was put together by members of the fans’ group, Gandermonium. It is named after Gander Green Lane’s oldest and most famous stand.
One to watch
Seasoned marksman Matt Tubbs only signed for Sutton on a permanent deal on December 1, but made an instant impact, grabbing the first goal on his debut in their historic FA Cup win over Cheltenham in the previous round.
Tubbs was also a prolific goalscorer for AFC Wimbledon, netting 15 times in 30 while on loan from Bournemouth during the 2014/15 season.
A place in the hat for Monday’s fourth round draw awaits. The victors will also receive a cheque for £67,500.